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Archive for March, 2012

There is a troubling passage in Deuteronomy 13 that shows just how important it is to God that we only worship Him.

Moses told the Israelites that the time would come when prophets and dream interpreters announced their supernatural knowledge of future events, or they would perform deeds beyond normal human ability.

Just because these events happened didn’t mean that the prophet or dream interpreter was from God, Moses said.

In fact, the chapter says, God sometimes allowed false teachers to demonstrate supernatural power just so the hearts of the people could be tested.

This same warning is valid today because some segments of Christianity seemingly have valued the ability to do signs and wonders ahead of the fidelity for a humble, servanthearted faith before God.

Check out vv. 1-4 below:

“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.”

Based on the passage above, it is entirely possible for us to see healings or predictive prophecy done by people who aren’t genuinely faithful to God.

This is tough to swallow, but that’s what the passage says.

Listen, remember that God tests our hearts and minds by allowing us sometimes to see people whose signs and wonders claims actually come true but whose motives appear to be more focused on worshipping and acquiring things than on humble, sacrificial worship of God.

Am I the only one who has noticed that a preponderance of the “health and wealth” proponents among Christianity — especially with televised ministries — are also associated with church movements emphasizing signs and wonders?

We should celebrate and worship when God provides a supernatural healing or a family is providentially delivered from a terrible financial situation. We should thank God for Christian servants that God used in those “signs and wonders” moments.

But if any of those servants subsequently focuses attention on material possessions as measures for faithfulness, ignore them for they are false prophets sent to test the humility and fidelity of our faith.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some of us are accustomed to doing what Psalm 70:4 suggests:

May those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The LORD is great!’

This not a declaration of how worshipful we are, but instead of how dependent we are.

I always need God’s saving help in one way or another.

And because He always — eventually — provides what I need and sometimes even what I want, it’s easy for me to say, “The LORD is great!”

I’ve had trouble lately getting enough sleep and I’ve been asking Him lately to help me to find more rest.

I know that He will and that I will become more productive and then I will have one more reason to declare “The LORD is great!”

Please think about a recent way that the Lord has blessed you and then you’ll be more likely to tell others that “The LORD is great!”

For He certainly is and we all need more of His help.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If I want to be considered a “Daddy,” then I need to be involved in my children’s lives rather than just be some guy who fathered them.

It’s the same, of course, for being a “Mommy” or “Grandpa.”

The fact is that the idea of “family” is measured by committed, nurturing relationships, not by DNA.

You and I know people who have blood relatives with whom they have no emotional or practical connection.

That’s not “family” in my book.

Jesus viewed family as something other than DNA patterns.

My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21)

You’ll recall the context of this verse as explained in other gospels is that Jesus’ mom and siblings wanted to take Jesus away from ministering because they thought He had become emotionally or mentally unstable.

He surely didn’t appreciate their confused meddling, but He refrained from criticizing them.

Instead, Jesus defined what “family” was to Him.

The question for you and me is this: Does Jesus see us as family?

Does He see us hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice with how we live, with how we speak, with how we pray, etc.?

Just before this segment in Luke 8, Jesus said that nobody lights a lamp and hides it under a basket.

Let your light shine today at work or at home or at school or in the neighbohood.

Forgive.

Encourage.

Donate generously.

Resist temptation.

It’s what family does for each other.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s a brief scene in the the movie Fireproof that was a turning point for the story of reconciliation in a marriage, but more importantly in a relationship between a man and God.

It’s when the lead character threw his computer monitor into the outside trash can, declaring in a personally dramatic way that pornography was no longer going to be allowed in his home and into his eyes.

The progression of healing in his relationships with his wife and his God didn’t happen overnight, but there’s no question of a complete change of direction occurred.

Lives were changed as a result.

This wouldn’t have happened without the sanctifying effort of destroying the vessel of filth that enabled the pornography — the home computer.

I’m not suggesting that you destroy and discard your home computer, unless you are struggling with porn and have found that porn-filtering software isn’t keeping you from bypassing it.

Whatever it takes to keep you away from sinful tendencies, then that’s what you need to do.

That’s why I don’t subscribe to cable movie channels or to movie download services. I don’t even want to be tempted to watch movies with racy scenes.

This hasn’t been a problem for me in the past, but I don’t want to even give Satan an opportunity to dump unsanctified dirt into my heart and mind.

I’m a new creation in Christ and I want to keep it that way.

This devotion is prompted by the message of Deuteronomy 7:1-6 in my devotional reading today. That’s the passage within which Moses told the Israelites to destroy “totally” the pagan nations occupying the Promised Land. There was to be no intermarriage and all forms of pagan religion were to be destroyed by smashing idols to pieces, cutting down idol poles and burning everything in fire.

God called the Israelites to be a holy people because they were chosen to be His possession.

And holy isn’t filthy.

Friend, let’s resist becoming filthy spiritually.

You know the things that too easily stain you. So does God.

Whatever stains our consciences and testimonies and fitness for worship has GOT to go.

Make no more treaties with whatever is dragging you down spiritually.

God will respond by lifting you to a higher place than you were before.

As always, I love you
Martin

and Monday’s devotion…

March 26, 2012

Like many Christians, I’ve too often found myself not thanking God enough for His blessings in my life.

It’s amazing how easily we take His favor for granted, neglecting to say thanks throughout the day whenever we are recipients of His blessings.

I’ve got to do better at this.

Perhaps you do, too.

I was reminded of this fact this morning when reading from Deuteronomy 6 as part of my devotional time. Here are the words of vv. 10-12 to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land…

“When the LORD your God brings you into the land

  • he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
  • to give you a land with large,
  • flourishing cities you did not build,
  • houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide,
  • wells you did not dig,
  • and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—
  • then when you eat and are satisfied, “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

What a marvelous set of blessings came to the Israelites! They didn’t do anything to deserve them. Yet God showed them favor because of His deep love for them and desire that they pour their hearts and lives into serving Him.

If you have good health, it’s not because you deserve it and other Christians don’t.

If you have compliant children who work hard to make you proud of their grades, it’s not because you’re a better parent than others necessarily.

If you “dumb luck” into a great deal on a newer used car or a better house at a lower price than you’re now paying, you can’t pat yourself on the back for your business wisdom, but you can praise the Lord for the undeserved blessing.

And the job opportunities we have are often related to the doors that God opens for us, not our overwhelming qualifications that many others have as well and THEY didn’t get the job.

Listen, the goodness we receive in life is a blessing. Let’s never forget this. Let’s always appreciate it. And let’s never stop praising God — multiple times daily — for the outpouring of favor into our lives.

As we do, we’ll be less likely to forget the Lord who brought us out of the land of sin slavery.

As always, I love you
MartinGod will respond by lifting you to a higher place than you were before.

As always, I love you
Martin
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March 26, 2012

Like many Christians, I’ve too often found myself not thanking God enough for His blessings in my life.

It’s amazing how easily we take His favor for granted, neglecting to say thanks throughout the day whenever we are recipients of His blessings.

I’ve got to do better at this.

Perhaps you do, too.

I was reminded of this fact this morning when reading from Deuteronomy 6 as part of my devotional time. Here are the words of vv. 10-12 to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land…

“When the LORD your God brings you into the land

  • he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
  • to give you a land with large,
  • flourishing cities you did not build,
  • houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide,
  • wells you did not dig,
  • and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—
  • then when you eat and are satisfied, “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

What a marvelous set of blessings came to the Israelites! They didn’t do anything to deserve them. Yet God showed them favor because of His deep love for them and desire that they pour their hearts and lives into serving Him.

If you have good health, it’s not because you deserve it and other Christians don’t.

If you have compliant children who work hard to make you proud of their grades, it’s not because you’re a better parent than others necessarily.

If you “dumb luck” into a great deal on a newer used car or a better house at a lower price than you’re now paying, you can’t pat yourself on the back for your business wisdom, but you can praise the Lord for the undeserved blessing.

And the job opportunities we have are often related to the doors that God opens for us, not our overwhelming qualifications that many others have as well and THEY didn’t get the job.

Listen, the goodness we receive in life is a blessing. Let’s never forget this. Let’s always appreciate it. And let’s never stop praising God — multiple times daily — for the outpouring of favor into our lives.

As we do, we’ll be less likely to forget the Lord who brought us out of the land of sin slavery.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We humans love routine.

Our brains don’t have to work as hard if we aren’t having to re-arrange the mental and social and theological furniture all the time.

But we sometimes miss out on important opportunities if we’re seeing all change as a threat.

The first football coach perhaps 80 years ago who promoted passing the ball more than running it was likely seen as a non-conformist who “didn’t understand” how the game was supposed to be played.

Look at football now…

Some of you are promoting Bible-based ideas in your congregation that don’t fit the tradition there. You’re perhaps facing resistance. Don’t be surprised.

Tradition sometimes has its heels deeply dug in at the personal thrones of the congregational leadership.

Be patient.

Pray.

Study to make sure your idea IS biblical and practical, and not just non-traditional.

Remember, though, just because something hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

Good, innovative ideas come along on a regular basis. We just have to make sure they are genuinely godly.

Jesus encountered the thrones of tradition. Quite frequently.

Luke 6:6-11 describes a typical occasion when Jesus, the ultimate non-conformist, provided the godliest of ministry and was met with the ungodliest of scorn, ironically, by those who saw themselves as the most godly.

“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.

“But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’

“He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Let’s not put the comfort zone of tradition and pride ahead of ministry in the name of God.

It’s a trap that has caught up too many people over the centuries.

We’re here to build a kingdom of truth for Jesus Christ, not an empire of tradition for ourselves.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some of you are old enough to remember the Fram oil filter commercial that showed an auto mechanic by a broken-down engine and saying, “You can pay me now or pay me later.”

The message was clear: Invest in preventative maintenance before big problems start and the cost of ownership will be much less than if engine care is ignored.

The commercial’s message resonated with so many people because the “pay me now or pay me later” principle applies in so many areas of life.

One who doesn’t exercise and make eating control choices earlier in life will pay a hefty price later in diminished health and constricted activity.

One who doesn’t grasp the value of delayed gratification will struggle miserably with retirement finances.

The list could go on, of course, but you get the point.

And so it is with the arena of faith.

The warning below to the wandering Hebrews, given just before they entered the Promised Land, was in my devotional reading today:

“‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.” (Numbers 33:55-56)

If we don’t strive early in our Christian life to become more like Jesus in thought and action, we’ll pay a very steep price later in terms of recurring crisis moments when we feel we’re stumbling and bumbling around in the fleshly fog of opinions and speculations.

Listen, pursuing personal sanctification through prayer, study, mutual encouragement and repentance as needed is the much better path.

We either pay the price of personal humility and sacrifice (of time, bad habits, unhealthy relationships) early in our Christian walk — even if it means putting up with some hassles — or we’re going to face much bigger problems that will require far more time to resolve, will permeate far more aspects of our lives and will disrupt all sorts of relationships that we value.

You’ve seen this happen, as have I.

It’s not pretty.

What’s worse, it didn’t have to happen.

Let’s do our best to “drive out the inhabitants of the land” when it comes to fleshly habits and attitudes. Whatever difficulty and disappointment we encounter on the journey to becoming more like Jesus is NOTHING compared to the difficulty and disappointment waiting for those who aren’t living for Jesus when He returns or when their lives here end.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The first time someone reads how the Apostle Peter started as a follower of Jesus, he or she might struggle to conceive of how a successful small businessman would simply walk away from his career and business assets.

Yes, it was a display of faith. But Jesus ministered to many people, I’m sure, who owned businesses and they didn’t leave the enterprises behind to become disciples.

So what was different about Peter’s experience that prompted his departure into discipleship?

An insight is given in Luke 4:38-39 into how Peter’s heart was led away from a focus on earthly business and toward a focus on heavenly business.

“Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.”

Earlier in Luke 4, Jesus had been in a Capernaum synagogue and healed a demon-possessed man. This, of course, left a profound impression on all the synagogue members which evidently included Simon, whom Jesus later nicknamed as Peter.

Peter’s mother-in-law was very ill and either Peter or someone close to him asked Jesus to come to Peter’s house in order to heal the mother-in-law.

When the healing occurred, there had to have been a profound impact on Peter.

This was no fluke of medical luck and natural breaking of a fever.

This was a miraculous, instantaneous display of God’s mercy at the request of sinful people who felt they had no other hope for the healing of one they loved.

Yes, Peter was impetuous and imperfect, but he was also impressionable.

So when Jesus soon thereafter asked Peter to lower his nets into the sea after a night of fruitless fishing, Peter’s heart and soul were being set up for a life-changing experience he never could have imagined.

You know what happened next.

And now it’s perhaps less confusing as to why Peter walked away from his life in Capernaum in order to walk with Jesus in the pursuit of lost souls.

So how does this apply to your life of ministry and mine?

Please understand that major life changes that we’d like to see in others — decisions to pour one’s self into worship and service of the Lord — don’t just happen.

It didn’t for Peter and it doesn’t for people today.

That’s why it’s so important that you and I look for opportunities to take the love and power of Jesus into other people’s lives. You might have an unsaved or unchurched friend with a family member who is really sick physically or in another way. Pray for the opportunity to go to that hurting person with your compassionate help, your prayers, the Word and passionately lay those needs before the Lord.

When God moves to bring comfort and healing in some form to the hurting person’s life, your ministry efforts might have not only led to a physical blessing but also to spiritual progress in your friend’s life.

Perhaps that friend will even become a fellow servant of the Lord.

Hmmmm….. I love how God works.

As always, I love you
Martin

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